Marcos to Civil Society
"What makes us different is our political proposal"


Zapatista Army of National Liberation Mexico, August 30, 1996

To: National and International Civil Society
From: Sup Marcos


I do not know if your remember us. We met in January of 1994. Since then we and you have tried to find one another, to speak with one another, and to listen to one another. It is has not been easy, surely. Many times instead of finding one another we lost one another. But... do you remember how on that January 12th you became fierce and imposed that cease-fire which now the government claims as "evidence of its political maturity"? Do you remember the dialogues in the Cathedral in San Cristobal? The security cordons you formed. Yes! and the caravans. Then the delirium of that August 8th of the CND in the Guadalupe Tepeyac now occupied by the military. And later, in spite of the "mistakes of December" and the press campaign, you once again shook out everything in February of 1995 and sat the government down to a dialogue. Remember the consultation? Remember our response? Remember how we invited you later to sit at San Andres in the first table, the National Indigenous Forum and the rainbows painted on the floor? Even more recently, remember the American Continental Encounter, the second table, the special forum, and even more recently, the intergalactic encounter? Remember now? We are the Zapatistas. Has there been anything which we have promised you which we have not fulfilled?

There is at least one thing to appreciate about the appearance of the EPR and the ascending scale of their propaganda and military actions. It is clear now that the difference between the Zapatistas and other political organizations is not the weapons or the skimasks. What makes us different is our political proposal. Political organizations whether they be parties of the right, the center, the left or popular or revolutionary, seek power. Some through electoral means, others through lies and fraud, others through the armed struggle. One and another declare themselves to be our leadership and they invite us to follow them and support them in their hold on power, so they may renew or take it. One and another promise they will resolve our future to our satisfaction.

We do not. We do not want others, more or less of the right, center or left, to decide for us. We want to participate directly in the decisions which concern us, to control those who govern us, without regard to their political affiliation, and oblige them to "rule by obeying". We do not struggle to take power, we struggle for democracy, liberty, and justice. Our political proposal is the most radical in Mexico (perhaps in the world, but it is still too soon to say). It is so radical that all the traditional political spectrum (right, center left and those of one or the other extreme) criticize us and walk away from our delirium.

It is not our arms which make us radical; it is the new political practice which we propose and in which we are immersed with thousands of men and women in Mexico and the world: the construction of a political practice which does not seek the taking of power but the organization of society. Intellectuals and political leadership, of all sizes, of the ultraright, of the right, the center, of the left and the ultraleft, national and international criticize our proposal. We are so radical that we do not fit in the parameters of "modern political science". We are not bragging madam: we are pointing out the facts. Is there anything more radical than to propose to change the world? You know this because you share this dream with us, and because, though the truth be repeated, we dream it together.

Now they want to trap us in an alley that has no exit with dignity. They want us to accept the humiliation of the racists who disguise themselves as government delegates. They want us to accept alms and to continue as beggars. They want us to make a mockery of the dialogue and a pantomime of peace. They want us to accept the role of "good" against "bad". They want us to sell out. They want us to surrender. Who are they? They, madam, the same ones who seek to deceive you daily and now promise terror and order in order to give tranquillity to their financial markets.

Madam, do we not have reason to feel alone today? All those forces, political and social, the personalities and leaders, who accepted our invitation to construct together and in peace a new country, now walk without us and in other directions. Have we stopped being useful? So be it. At any rate we have the satisfaction of opening new spaces of discussion and thought in Mexico and in the world. It is not a small thing to achieve at the national and international level. And it has been made possible because of you, madam. Now our time runs out, but so be it.

However, you must continue. Do not believe those who offer conformity and fear. And do not forget, madam. Above all, do not forget.

It seems that now I remember that I owe you three definitions (or was it four). Errant knighthood sends me to pay the debts I owe, especially when the line of credit is low. So here they are:

Federales: The government has soldiers. The indigenous people have soldiers. The soldiers of the government have dark skin. The soldiers of the indigenous rebels have dark skin. They appear to be the same, the government soldiers and the armed indigenous. But the government soldiers fire towards the bottom, where our people are. The indigenous soldiers fire up above. Not to kill governments, they say. But to awaken history, they yell.

Jodidos: The most powerful of the powerful practice a strange democracy, the democracy of contempt. For them there are no Indians or mestizos, whites or browns. for the powerful, the others have only one name, the Jodidos [the screwed].

One: One is not always one. One is, some times, three: one is the one who left, one is the one who could be. One is, other times, what others want you to be. Today, one is none of these. In the tomorrow we dream, one will be one.

Done, then.

Forgive then, kind madam, if the letter contains some of those vulgarities which provoke despair in my literary critics (of which there are good ones) and in good revolutionaries. Seems that, Olivio found a hole in his football and he insisted upon replacing it with that moon which travels up above without anyone caressing it. So I climbed into the Ceiba helped by the smoke of the pipe, and there above, trying to figure out how to reach it, it occurred to me that perhaps elsewhere someone else contemplated this full moon and then I understood that the moon, like tomorrow, belongs to no one and yet to everyone. This is what I yelled at Olivio, making signs from above. But it was useless because as I was climbing the Ceiba, Olivio made off with some candies I had and ran off with the same ability as Carlos Salinas de Gortari. I tell you. I have always thought that child has the making of a president of the Republic, or at least of the brother of a President.

What was I saying? Oh yes! Olivio left and I remained stuck up here, smoking and waiting, dreaming that the other cloud up above, up higher, lie down with me in order to alleviate this desire and asphyxiation...

Then, madam, I will bother you no more. I only wanted to say what I have said before and remind you that we are here, that we are still the same, and that, I repeat, we are behind you.

Vale. Health and please know that in order to dance and make love only two are necessary and a little tune. The rest, believe me, is unnecessary decoration. By the way, will you give me this dance?

From the heights of some ceiba tree in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

The Sup refusing to acknowledge that he doesn't know how to climb down.

Translated by; Cecilia Rodriguez National Center for Democracy, Liberty and Justice

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